Saturday, September 29, 2012

Busy Like Always

Today exactly marks my one month milestone here in France!

I've been observing some differences of Louhans and Canmore, my town in Canada, and there are many I would like to share.  I'm glad that I wrote my thoughts down on a paper since the beginning of September, because day by day, these differences around me seem more familiar and it is becoming more difficult for me to recognize them!

First topic is the lycée.  The length of the hours at school are different depending on the classes a student has that day.  Unlike Canmore, I end lycée either at 17h, 18h (twice), 12h, and 16h.  (I still have to look at my time table to see what I have everyday.)  I thought lycée would always end 18h for all the days, but I'm thankful that it's not true!

Since lycée ends by dinner time, there are not many lycée-organized after-school activities.  There is apparently a badminton and hand-ball team, but there are no other sport teams, musical band, etc.  Instead, the students involve themselves in extracurricular activities that are non lycée-related.  Of course there are lots of activities provided even in this small community like football (aka: soccor), martial arts, theatre/drama, music, etc.  I decided to join the karaté club (I was a brown belt in Canada), and the youth orchestra at the music school (I play the flute), so I am already busy!  Although the language barrier still exists, I feel so great to be around with people who have similar interests!

At the lycée, there is an infirmerie (school infirmary), cantine (cafeteria where most students eat the lunch made there), internat (where students known as "internats" sleep Monday to Thursday nights like boarding school students), and an etude (a room where students must go and study for minimum 2 hours per week during their breaks).  Within the classrooms of the lycée, there are both white boards and chalk boards and only one electronic board (in the art plastiques room).  Speaking about technology, students here are forbidden to use any kind of it during class.  (I think that includes graphing calculators in mathematiques!)  There are computers, but they are strictly used only for research and art-technology.

The clothing worn by a typical teenager for lycée is not that different from a Canadian student.  However here in France, no one wears athletic clothing like yoga sweaters, tops, pants, sneakers etc., except in gym class.  Everyone almost wears jean pants everyday.  Also, leather jackets and pants seems like the fashion here!  (Haha, of course I have one too, but just the jacket!)

For the village in general, I think one of the biggest difference is about the time stores are open!  Usually in Canada, Sundays are one of the most busiest days of the week!  Most of the stores here on Sundays are closed, including supermarkets!  My host-mother said to me that Sundays is the day of relaxing for everyone.

There are lots of fences and hedges that surround individual properties.  Also, many windows have exterior shutters that always close at night.  An old man once explained to me that some people don't want to show their house to others; particularly the burglars.  I believe that the people here are more protective of their own possessions than Canada since my host family stressed the importance of always locking the gates and doors of our house and shutting all windows by dusk.

Below are some photos of me and my current host family at the Chateau in Pierre-en-Bresse which is close to Louhans.  It was so beautiful!  There, I learned that the Bressan territory began to take form during the christian and feudal period in the IXth century, and during the XIIIth century, many castles and churches were established into villages, turning them into market towns like Louhans!

Symbolic statues and elegant structure of the roofs
Lovely design of the rails and water surrounding the Chateau
The wood construction of a typical Bressan house
Raw and organic materials used to build walls and floors for houses
My 6 year old host brother and I being funny

September has been an adventurous month for me, and I am glad that I am finally creating a schedule full of events and activities to keep myself busy.  I now truly feel like a citizen here in Louhans and not a tourist.  I would like to thank the Rotary Club of Louhans Bresse Bourguignonne for covering the costs for these activities, and my current host family for letting me be part of the community and showing me other places.

Below are more photos of my friends and I hanging out together to play ping-pong:

Left to Right: French, Mexican, German, Canadian

Playing ping-pong at my friend's house
I never knew how tired you can get after playing ping-pong and talking French all day...

Until next time!

ps: once again, I'm on the newspaper but this time including the other (AND the only other) three exchange student of my lycée!  We're all in the same class!

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